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Some parts were a bit...unrealistic. I wasn't sure how they were able to get to some settings and just leave like it wasn't a big deal. But this is still an immensely enjoyable book, one that I've reread.
What I love about A.S. King's Reality Boy is how it takes a good hook – the protagonist is a 17-year-old who when he was little was on a reality TV show about misbehaving children where he shat on a bunch of things – and piles on the dysfunction, and makes you see the situation the way he does, but then as the tension mounts and mounts and mounts there’s this understanding that actually, this is more cussed up than a person should have to deal with. Especially a 17-year-old.
King is so good at writing teens who think they’re cussed up and then realize that actually their situation is even more cussed up than they thought, and really it’s up to them to say something. This idea that adults are full of shit and need you to tell them that things are cussed up even if they won’t believe you is, I think, an important message. Even though it’s not written as a “message” novel. There’s something subversive about this, that it is actually well within your rights not to fit in and to be angry at the way the world is, even if other people have it worse.
The story is also hella romantic, with angry teenage true love and fights and a bit of running away to join the circus. It’s an excellent book, even if it is a pretty quick read. Highly recommended.
Got hyped because of the good reviews, majorly disappointed. Predictable story, unlikable characters. 1 star for Hockey Lady, the only sane person in the story.
Silly me, I put off reading this for quite a while because I didn't think the premise sounded very appealing: I didn't think I'd be able to relate to a character like Gerald and am already convinced that reality TV is not a good thing. But there is so much more to this book than that. Character and situational complexity so real that relating and agreeing aren't even relevant issues. This is top-notch writing and storytelling that will engage anyone. Gerald's story is definitely worth experiencing.
Gerald, a seventeen-year-old who starred on a reality TV show when he was five, recounts the trauma of that experience and how it leaves him feeling angry and misunderstood. Reality Boy is a work of fiction that tells the awful truth about Reality TV. But, just as you begin to lose faith in the human race, the author does something magical: she shows us how it's all going to be OK. For Gerald. And for us. Highly recommended for teens and adults.
Coming back to add some comments about this book, years after having read it. Am currently reading King's latest title, Glory O'Brien's History of the Future, and am struck by how brave both books are in their explorations of family dynamics. While Glory O'Brien's History of the Future delves into the lingering grief experienced after a family member commits suicide, Reality Boy deals with a family member who is manipulative and psychotic. When you are a child in a family with this kind of "problem child," what can you do? What power do you have when the parents refuse to acknowledge there is a problem?
Fans of A.S. King get exactly what they want, well rounded characters, a unique story and magical realism. It is a hard sell to readers, but worth every minute spent inside the pages.
If you ever wondered what happened to those kids you see on those Nanny 911 type shows, this shows you what could be.
Gerald was on a show called "Network Nanny" when he was five. He became infamous for a particularly gross thing he would do in an effort to get someone to pay attention the fact that he wasn't the problem in the family. We go back to see the show being filmed and see how much is staged and how much is edited out to make it look like that Gerald is the problem when he probably causes the least.
Now seventeen, Gerald suffers from anger problems, still lives in a horribly toxic environment, takes special ed classes, and the real problem in his family has everyone in their grasp.
It's unforgiving, depressing, traumatizing, but still hopeful as the girl from register #7 at his job gets a name that he enjoys using. You're left with an open ending but enough that you can see that there's a chance for Gerald despite his reality tv show past.
This book cements A.S. King as one of my all-time favorite authors. What a fantastic writing style, sense of character, and plotting. Nothing is predictable in King's books, and she doesn't let her characters or plot revel in angst.
What happens when the reality show doesn't need your family any more?
Great concept. What happens to the kids whose parents make them be the subject of a reality TV show? Gerald was 5 years old when his family starred in a Super Nanny type of show; now he's 17 and all anyone knows about him is what they saw onscreen 12 years ago when he was known as "the Crapper."